The series stars Hend Sabry as Ola, an Egyptian pharmacist under pressure to marry having reached the age of thirty and facing the social stigma of spinsterhood. Each episode focuses on a prospective husband and the series of unfortunate events that occur before Ola gives up the suitor as a lost cause, with Ola as a kind of “everywoman” who turns to the camera to address her remarks to audience.
The comedy is directed by Rami Abdel Imam, with a script co-written by Abdel Aal and a list of guest-starring celebrities. The famous names connected to the sitcom and the sensitive subject it deals with heightened the hype over it, especially in light of the worsening reputation of Egyptian television among pan-Arab audiences, who have turned to Syrian shows instead.
Unfortunately, 3ayza Atgawez will not do much to save that reputation. While the blog and the book were both popular, especially with the younger generation, responses to the series have been mixed at best, with much of the criticism directed at Sabry’s portrayal of Ola.
Ola is represented as a successful professional woman who is ambitious, witty, and determined. However, this strong representation is undermined by the fact that Ola is so determined to get married that her determination edges over into the obsession of a neurotic woman. This is problematic not because she’s a walking stereotype (I can’t think of a sitcom character who is not in some way a stereotype), but because the premise of the series depends on the audience empathizing with her. There are episodes when the comedy succeeds and we laugh with Ola at the tragicomic situations she finds herself in, but for the most part, we’re laughing at a woman willing to do anything to find a husband.
This flaw has led to accusations of heavy-handed acting on Sabry’s part, disappointing viewers who expected a performance on par with her previous successful roles. In the same way, many readers of the blog who enjoyed the tongue-in-cheek portrayal of the tribulations of an unmarried a thirty-something woman were disappointed when the narrator was turned into a stock figure. The stylized nature of the sitcom seems unsuited to the tone of the original material. This is exacerbated by problematic questions about what it means to portray marriage as the ultimate dream of a woman’s life, with several reviewers blasting the series for trying to return women decades to the past. [Read more...]